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Restaurant Review: The Only Place for Tea in Liverpool

The Adelphi? No, that old rundown hotel was blaring Barry Manilow as we walked into the ballroom to enjoy a lovely afternoon tea. The desk clerk had confirmed that they served until four o’clock, so we had hustled up from our Mersey Ferry ride to the Adelphi and arrived at 3:30 expecting a nice treat for our last day in Europe.

“I write the songs that make the whole world sing…” and an empty, formerly grand, space greeted us. This did not bode well. A passing waitress told us those blokes over there got the last of the scones. When we asked where else we might find a good English tea, she shrugged and said , “If you’re hungry, there’s a McDonalds and KFC down that road over there.”

AARGGH! Our final day of the trip and stymied at last. We would have no tea, it seemed, for everyone we asked for the next five minutes (and we tried all sorts, believe me) stared at us as if we were asking for a salad bar in Antarctica. So we gave up and decided to eat lunch at the Philharmonic Dining Rooms restaurant near our hostel again. We knew at least they’d be willing to feed us something, and they’d be open.

Along the way, a sign caught the corner of my eye: Afternoon Tea. Ah ha! Turns out we found the best, no, the only, place in Liverpool to have a delicious afternoon tea in a modern and stylish environment.

The Rivva Room, at # 1-11 Hardman Street, Liverpool, L19AS, boasts a fine menu of sandwiches and cakes, some scrumptious sounding pannini and exactly what one wants when one is a hungry and tired American who craves the afternoon tea days of her junior year abroad in London…. Fresh butter scones, Devonshire clotted cream and strawberry jam, freshly made sandwiches (one of which was chicken salad with a hint of bacon), fresh strawberries and the absolute best chocolate sauce I’ve ever tasted (we poured it on our forks when we had eaten all the berries and there was nothing left to dip). Hot tea and milk in a creamer shaped like a cow. Charming. But chic, too.

Black and white interior with chrome and dark wood floors, and no Barry Manilow. Only some cool piano pieces appropriately subdued but still audible. Summertime and the livin’ is easy…. Man, ain’t that the truth.

Turns out that the owner came to Liverpool only recently from London. He had gone to the Adelphi, too, for tea and found it lacking. In fact, he said, “There was no place to get a decent afternoon tea.” So he opened The Rivva Room two months ago. Already I can see he’s getting a following. As we sat there for the next hour and a half, enjoying an unhurried meal, we saw several people come and go, some clearly regulars. The table for four of dressed-up ladies who ordered American milkshakes. The elderly woman and her daughter who ordered coffee and a croissant. The salesman who was offered a glass of sherry and a friendly handshake. The Rivva Room is very close to the Philharmonic Auditorium and sees a steady stream of concert goers, too.

Next time you’re in Liverpool…seven days a week, 12-6 p.m., stop by and enjoy whatever strikes your fancy. Cheers!

6 Responses

  1. I’ll read this later, as I’m a bit under the weather right now. Just wanted to say hello, though. Hello 🙂

  2. Sorry you are not feeling well. I’m making my way down the blog roll and just haven’t got to the S part yet! Looking forward to getting reconnected. 🙂

  3. As I was born in Manchester (and there is a huge rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester!) I can only shake my head in wonder at the lack of suitable eating hostelries in Liverpool but I am glad you found somewhere nice in the end.

    Now had you been down in my neck of the woods – Dorset, you would have had cream tea choices coming out of your ears! To be fair, it’s not really a city thing – escape to the country!

  4. Ah, yes, of course, that’s true. But as I was only in the UK for three days (Hull for one and Liverpool for two), I had no opportunity! Still, it was quite an adventure. 🙂

  5. Seems like the high tea is going extinct in its own country! I’m surprised that’s how the waitress answered you. We can still enjoy tea in the afternoon with little finger-sized pastries and fruits here in Canada. Glad to hear you’re coming home soon. And, thanks for the tips on The Rivva Room.

  6. I’m sure there are plenty of places to get some lovely tea, but just not in Liverpool. That is rather a working-class, industrial city, so no doubt that has something to do with it. (BTW, I make a mean afternoon tea myself here at home!)

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